Nine Shenandoah Conservatory students were thrilled to perform at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., on May 21. Their invited performance was part of the Tea for Harmony Yaji Cultural Salon, a special celebration in honor of International Tea Day, and the guests included many foreign envoys to the United States, cultural institutions, political and business celebrities. Yaji, which translates as “a gathering of elegance,” was a common way for the ancient Chinese Literati to enjoy their cultural life collectively, to appreciate tea, incense, paintings, music and cuisine. This year’s celebration offered the many guests an immersive experience of Chinese culture that included presentations highlighting the rich cultural traditions of Quanzhou, Fujian Province, including tea ceremony demonstrations and tastings, traditional Nanyin music and marionette performances.
Jian Song ’19, ’25 (Master of Music in Performance, Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance) and colleagues Yisong Yang ’26 (Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance – Viola), Eli Thomas ’15, ’17 (Bachelor of Music in Performance, Master of Music in Performance – Violin), Elina Jade Liu (University of Virginia) performed several lovely selections for string quartet, and also were highlighted performers during the buffet dinner afterward. Bixiao Wang ’23 (Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance – Voice) and Qiuyu Li ’24 (Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance – Voice) sang a beautiful duet, “越人歌”（The Song of Yue Boatman, and Chen Liang ’23 (Artist Diploma – Piano) performed the theme song from the highly acclaimed animated film “Big Fish” with artists from Xuelan Academy and Quanzhou as excerpts from the film played on a large screen for the audience to enjoy. Dancers Maggie DeFrees ’23 (Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design & Production – Scenic Design), Lainey Griffin ’23 (Bachelor of Arts in Dance), Skylar Matos ’24 (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance) and Maria Pomares ’25 (Bachelor of Arts in Dance) performed an excerpt from “Heart Blossom,” choreographed by Associate Dean for Student Affairs; Professor, Dance Ting-Yu Chen ’19, Ed.D., a beautiful contemporary work that blended both Chinese and Western movement styles.
Song, who was instrumental in coordinating all the details of our performance trip, shared the highly favorable response to Shenandoah’s performances: “Minister Xu and the counselor were impressed by [our] performances and spoke highly of the positive impression [that] has undoubtedly enhanced the perception of Shenandoah University among the attending leaders. This will greatly benefit both our school and the Chinese embassy in establishing a strong relationship, while also opening up more potential opportunities for our school’s future development.”
Many press agencies attended and Shenandoah Conservatory’s artists were showcased in news stories about the salon in multiple cities across China, including this China (Hong Kong) report, an article from the ShanghaiEye, an article in China Daily and an article with Ifeng News.